Merrimack NH Missing Places: Great Dane Knitting Mill

Great Dane Knits advertisement.

I happened across an October 1962 newspaper article when the Nashua Telegraph announced a visit by John W. King, then Democratic candidate for governor to various Merrimack NH companies including one called Great Dane Knitting Mills [see other locations he visited at end of story**].

—Great Dane Knitting Mill in Merrimack NH—
Great Dane Knitting Mills existed in Merrimack NH from about 1958 through 1963. The company was located in the New England Chemical Supply building in Merrimack’s Souhegan Village area, along with the post office. This manufacturing facility, originally a tannery, was the northern of two large factory buildings, situated by the Daniel Webster Highway, on land that is now known as Watson Park.

Wool sweater emblem made by Great Dane Knitting Mills. Courtesy of Rick Price.

Great Dane Knitting Mills of Merrimack NH made high school and college sweaters (especially varsity letter or monograms). Comments from FaceBook Group: ‘Remember When in Merrimack…’ Sandra Nute Meehan: “The entrance was the same as the post office. I believe that our first Merrimack Bank sweaters were from there. WOW were they heavy and warm!” Carole Hopkins Footer said “It was on the last that is now Watson Park. I got my High School Sports Letter there. Still have it. There was also a post office in there.”

—Company Owner: Henry Grieve—
The company owner, Henry Grieve, also owned Somerville Knitting Co. in Needham MA, and had a summer home on Baboosic Lake (Pine-Knol-Lah section on the eastern shore). Henry Grieve was a Mason and his membership card shows that he was born 24 September 1894 in Hawick Scotland and died 9 August 1964 in Massachusetts. His original lodge was St. James #424 in Hawick Scotland but he became affiliated locally with Nehoiden Lodge in 1932. In 1948 the famed George E. Wye Company transferred the patent for Great Dane Knits to Henry Grieve.

Original building was W.H. McElwain, a tannery on the DW Highway in Merrimack NH. Later New England Chemical, Great Dane Knitting, and Harcros Chemical.

Henry Grieve was a naturalized U.S. Citizen, his papers stating he arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on 24 Sep 1894. He served in the US military from 15 Dec 1917 to 4 August 1919 (WWI) as PFC in the U.S. Army. His WWII registration card [circa 1946] shows him living at 66 Grant Street in Needham, Norfolk MA, aged 47. He was married, his wife being Mrs. Edith Grieve. His work place: Own business, Somerville Knitting Co., 24 Pleasant St., Needham, Norfolk, MA.

His wife was Maud Edith Benner, daughter of Charles E. & Abbie (Gorham) Benner. She was b. 21/22 July 1896 in Waltham, MA and d. 1965 in Needham MA. Henry Grieve is buried in Meadow View Cemetery, Foundry Street, Amherst NH

The 1940 US Census shows him living in Needham MA. “Henry Grieve 45 b. Scotland finished Highschool (4th year) / Edith B. Grieve 43 b. MA HS,3d year, bookkeeper, Knit Goods / Robert Grieve 15 / Marjarie Grieve 13 / John Grieve 7 / Josephine Newman 60 housekeeper.

Aerial view of Souhegan Village Merrimack NH, taken by B.H. Webster, father of the blog editor.

—The building in Merrimack—
After Great Dane Knitting closed, the building in which is was located continued to be inhabited. Per various newspaper reports: Harcros Chemicals purchased the property in 1981 and operated a chemical manufacturing, packaging and distribution business from 1981 to 1998 when all business operations at the site ceased.

In 1996 Harcros employees moved from this older building at 441 DW Highway in Merrimack to a new building at 8 Colonial Street in Nashua. That facility had to be rebuilt after the roof collapsed due to heavy snow in 2000. The building in Merrimack NH on 12 acres of land continued to be owned by Harcros Chemical.

In 2002 this location was considered for a possible river-front park. In Aug of 2005,

October 2001, photo of then-Harcros building in Merrimack NH being torn down. Courtesy of Rick Price.

anonymously at first, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Watson offered to buy the Harcros Chemical property and donate it to the town to be used possibly for a park. At this time it was owned by Elementis PLC of England which had been cleaning up contamination on the property. As I mentioned earlier, this area today is now known as Watson Park.

My special thanks to Rick Price for providing photographs and information about various Merrimack buildings.

**In October 1962 the Nashua Telegraph announced a visit by John W. King, then Democratic candidate for governor to Merrimack companies: Purina Nashua Research Farm, New England Pole and Wood Treating Corp., Hume Pipe of New England, NH Plating Co., New England Chemical Supply Corp, Great Dane Knitting Mills, and Pilgrim Furniture Mfg.

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